Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions

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Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions wiki

"In April 2009, the Real Estate Tax Authority Union (RETA) submitted its application to the Egyptian government for recognition as Egypt’s first independent trade union. RETA was subsequently accepted as an affiliate of Public Services International (PSI), the Global Union Federation that represents more than 20 million public-sector workers worldwide. Following RETA’s lead, teachers, technical health workers, and pensioners also organized independent unions. On January 30, 2011, taking advantage of the increased freedom created by the revolution, these four independent unions came together, along with industrial workers from other sectors and the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS), a 20-year-old NGO working in support of worker and trade union rights in Egypt, to form the Egyptian Federation of Independent Unions... As leading examples of Egyptian workers’ dedication to fighting for freedom of association and worker rights, RETA and CTUWS received the AFL-CIO’s 2009 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award on behalf of all Egyptian workers. " [1]

"Shawna Bader-Blau, executive director of the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, and Lisa McGowan, acting director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the Solidarity Center, participated in the historic founding Congress of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU). The Congress represented an important step forward in the struggle by Egyptian workers to form free and independent unions." [2]


Writing in 2011 Joel Beinin notes that: "Before January 25, three independent unions unaffiliated to ETUF were established. The largest and most important was the 35,000-member union of Real Estate Tax Authority (RETA) workers. A dramatic sit-in strike of 3,000 RETA workers in front of the Ministry of Finance in December 2007 resulted in a 325 percent wage increase. Kamal Abu Eita and other strike leaders used the momentum of this victory to establish an independent union in December 2008. In April 2009 the government recognized it as the first non-ETUF affiliated union since 1957. The independent RETA workers' union was a founding member of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU), whose existence was announced at a press conference during the Tahrir Square occupation on January 30.

"Among the newly-established unions affiliated with EFITU are eight unions and a city-wide labor council in Sadat City, where 50,000 workers are employed in 200 enterprises -- mainly textiles, iron and steel, and ceramics and porcelain. There were only two unions in Sadat City before this year. A largely non-unionized labor force was only one of the generous incentives to private investors offered in special economic zones established in the new satellite cities of Cairo. Another is that in Qualified Industrial Zones, if 10.5 percent of a product's assessed value comes from Israeli sources, it receives duty-free and quota-free access to the United States.

"EFITU and the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS), a non-governmental organization established in 1990 to promote trade union independence, successfully resisted the imposition of the original candidate of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the former ETUF treasurer, as Minister of Manpower and Migration in the transitional government. Instead, they proposed Ahmad Hasan al-Burai, a professor of labor law at Cairo University who had publicly advocated trade union pluralism for years. SCAF accepted the nominee of the independent workers' movement...

"Meanwhile, the EFITU, the CTUWS, and the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) have filed a court case seeking dissolution of ETUF and sequestration of its assets. Their legal brief argues (correctly) that, like the dissolved National Democratic Party, ETUF was an institution of the Mubarak regime. This coalition has also drafted a new trade union law to replace Law 35. The Ministry of Manpower and Migration has held three rounds of discussion on the draft law, the latest with the participation of representatives of the ILO. Kamal Abbas, the general coordinator of the CTUWS, is optimistic that a new trade union law will be enacted before the parliamentary elections this fall.

"Another workers' achievement is an increase in the minimum wage. In 2010 Nagi Rashad, a worker at the South Cairo Grain Mill and a leading figure in the workers' protest movement, successfully sued the government over its 2008 decision not to increase the national minimum wage. Khaled Ali, director of the ECESR, was the lead attorney on the case..." [3]

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Related Sourcewatch


  1. solidaritycenter he Solidarity Center supports worker rights advocates in Egypt, organizational web page, accessed April 19, 2012.
  2. AFL-CIO Egypt’s New Labor Movement Comes of Age, organizational web page, accessed April 18, 2012.
  3. mideast.foreignpolicy What have workers gained from Egypt’s revolution?, organizational web page, accessed April 18, 2012.